William Vaughn Lewis (aka Alpine)

William Vaughn Lewis was born to Robert and Geneva Lewis on March 11, 1965. He had one child, Jahvann Raphael Lewis, who was also murdered, on September 8, 2019. He was and is very much loved by many people. William’s life was taken on August 22, 2020. He was murdered in front of his family home.

William was a hustler, always making money to support me and his family. This man was the love of my life. He was a good provider, a loyal friend, and my heart and soul. I will never be the same.

I love you, William. As of today, August 26, 2020, there have been no witnesses that have come forward. The San Antonio police department have not one lead. We don’t have any idea why someone would take William Vaughn Lewis from his family and my life.

William, you can finally rest. I know you were so tired. Fly with the angels, and hang out with your son, Jahvann, your brothers, Robert and Jerry, and, of course, your loving father, Robert Senior. We all love you and will miss you deeply.

Steffani Bailey

My boyfriend was murdered on December 7, 2006, by an angry man with a gun. I received a call from my boyfriend’s son that his dad was dead. I thought I had heard him incorrectly, as he was hysterical and hard to understand. After I realized what he was saying, I don’t remember much of the rest of that night. My future and dreams of sharing the rest of my life with this amazing man were gone. I guess I am one of the lucky ones in that his murderer was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years. After 11 years in prison, he will be released this December. Nate— I will never forget you and will try to continue to make you proud. You were one of kind. Sweet dreams, baby.

Dr. Lorenzo Neal

In the summer of 1980, when I was 5, my 25-year-old mother, Sharon Neal, was killed in an act of domestic violence that involved a gun in my hometown of Monroe, Louisiana. She left behind her four young boys (my brothers — Kevin, Emanuel and Joshua — and me) to be raised by her parents. Kevin would go on to join the U.S. Navy, marry and have a son of his own, Kevin Jr., lovingly known as “Make Mae.” Lil Kevin had a great big smile and an even bigger personality. He was in the JROTC at his school and worked part time. On October 19, 2016, at the age of 18 and in his senior year of high school, Kevin was taken from us in a senseless act of gun violence in Newport News, Virginia. They both live in my heart, and I will work to keep their memories alive.

Tanya R

My grandfather was a reserved man; quiet, usually in the background. I didn’t know him well; I don’t have many memories of him. Until Christmas Day, 1985.

I was 9. It wasn’t a banner year for me, as my father had suffered a series of heart attacks and would never leave the hospital, but we had traveled to see the grandparents anyway. I got a set of jacks in my stocking, and I was sitting on the floor playing with them after we’d opened all the presents. My six-foot tall Grandpa sat down, long legs sprawled out, and played with me. It’s seared in my memory, because now I know it was his way of saying goodbye. The next morning, my grandmother wandered the house, wondering where Grandpa was, asking everyone if they’d seen him or if he’d said anything about going anywhere. And then she found him, and I remember the screams and the terror. He’d taken the rifle in the garage, and he’d taken his own life. Depression, alcohol, fear – they changed my grandfather. But the gun – that’s what took his life.

Jitka Vesel

Jitka, Jitty, my dear friend and copilot of 28 years, was senselessly murdered by her stalker: a man who crossed the border from Canada, found and purchased a gun online. It’s a gun he never should have had, a loophole in our laws that took the life of my sister by choice. Every day I miss her; every holiday, birthday, celebration is tarnished by the empty chair at my table and empty space in my heart. I fought then to see her killer brought to justice. I fight today to get sensible gun safety legislation enacted — to stop the flood of blood, to save broken bodies, broken hearts and ended lives.

Jitty, I will carry your laughter, your humor and your kindness with me always.

Saleh Kassabieh

I was a freshman in high school. Fourteen years old. I was a little punk weirdo with only a handful of friends. For some reason, Saleh was my friend.

He was an anomaly in high school. Never hid behind the school and smoked cigarettes like me and my best friend did. But he would still hang out with us. Never identified with any particular group. Jocks liked him. Hip-hop kids liked him. Burnouts and preps. So fun, so friendly, so cool. Invite him to your party, he’d show up. He loved the big booming systems everyone at the time was installing in their car. The heavier the bass, the better.

So when a kid that was a friend of a friend asked if he wanted to come check out his new system, he, being the guy he was, of course said yes. A short time later this almost 16-year-old kid would emerge from his parents’ garage as 14 year old Saleh and his best friend sat in the front seats, point a gun at my friend, and pull the trigger, killing him. He was free two years later when he turned 18.

Stephanie

The fire department was in our yard. I had let a fire go too far — a grass fire. The yard was still thick with smoke. Flames were still trying to circle out from the black swath they had already claimed.

I had been ignoring my mother’s phone calls. I finally relented.

Her cousin’s daughter had been shot in the head. I had just sent her a baby gift: muslin blankets, a turtle night-light. Her baby son was also in the car; her father was also in the car. They were okay. She was not.

I had a baby son inside my womb then. I think of her often. She should be here, too. She should be here mothering, too.

Aunt Weezie

My Aunt Louise was so beautiful. So full of life. Full of everything.

An unmatched free spirit whose acts of compassion became legendary.

The Flag Majorette in the Alabama Million Dollar Marching Band.

She loved huskies, purple and bears.

So concerned for the horses housed on a nearby military base, she freed them.

One afternoon she pulled into a gas station, stood on the corner and announced, “Come get FREE gas!”

She handed over her ATM card, and the fuel flowed.

A concerned clerk called the bank and found my uncle. Displeased, he told her to stop.

The gas was cut off, and my Aunt Louise was so angry that she gave the next person in line my uncle’s Porsche.

Aunt Louise was magical.

Aunt Louise was bipolar.

On January 10, 2017, my Aunt Louise sent my uncle out to walk their dog.

She stepped outside, into the front yard of their new home and shot herself in the head.

My Aunt Louise should have NEVER had access to a firearm and ammunition.

She FOUGHT EVERYDAY to SURVIVE her bipolar disorder.

And with that firearm in hand,
all her struggles,
all her accomplishments,
all her magic was gone.

GONE in ONE MANIC MOMENT!

Leslie Anne washington

This week marks National Gun Violence Survivors Week. Countless people are sharing their stories and fighting for real action to end gun violence. And although I will never get back nine years I lost in my abusive relationship, or more memories of sitting at Grandma’s house for hours with my cousin, I will fight for common sense gun safety laws that can prevent other families from experiencing the same pain as mine and other survivors’. I will continue to do everything in my power to end gun violence. In 2015, I watched alongside my family as the police could not solve the murder of my cousin Keith, who was shot and killed. And in 1984, I cried when another cousin, Reginald, died by gun suicide. Our family still doesn’t have closure from their deaths. Gun violence needs to stop. It can be stopped. This is why I joined the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action — to fight gun violence of all types. Gun violence tears apart families everywhere. Gun violence is not just in Baltimore or New York or St. Louis. It is in rural parts of the country as well. Gun violence and domestic violence go together.

Harold Jones III

Death has no favorites. It comes suddenly, with no compassion. My nephew, Harold Jones III, whom I held in my hands as a baby, who followed behind me countless times down to the corner store, and whom I had just seen the week before, was gunned down in Kissimmee, Florida, last year. His murder was gut-wrenching to our close-knit family. It was something we had never dealt with, and it was something we hope to never again feel. People deserve to grow older and live their lives to the fullest. Life is not supposed to be taken and discarded.

Gun violence has been so ingrained in our society that we have just become accustomed to it. We have become numb to the violence. I can hear my nephew telling me, “Auntie, you know I love you.” He towered over me, and when we hugged, all I got was chest. It was our ritual, every time I saw him. I watched my wedding video last week. I could see him walking in and taking his seat before the ceremony. I only wish I could hug him now.